City Of Brigham Young
Videographer James A. FitzPatrick traveled the globe filming documentaries. During his career he made nearly 300 films as he captured stories and chronicled cultures everywhere. In 1945 FitzPatrick made two travelogues while visiting Utah: City of Brigham Young and Monumental Utah. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, with conductor J. Spencer Cornwall, appeared in both films.
The films were distributed to various outlets, including Navy battleships in service during World War II. Cornwall’s son, Allen, was on a Navy destroyer in the Pacific when City of Brigham Young was shown in his ship’s theater. After the surprise gift of watching his father and the Choir perform on the screen, Allen wrote the following letter home:
I now consider myself one of the luckiest boys in the Pacific. I’ve just had not only an actual look at my hometown, but I’ve seen my father and heard the most beautiful music in all the world—the Tabernacle Choir.
You can imagine how I feel now. It’s almost like going home. The photography of the Choir is superb! Naturally there is nothing to compare with its singing, especially during the pictures of the temple. I was ready to get up and start walking with the students at the U. What familiar scenes!
Believe me, I’ll bet there isn’t anyone out here or on any other front who’s had their hometown unrolled in front of them with shots of their father included. It just doesn’t seem real.
If it were not for the faith and strength of Brigham Young, there would not have been a picture of Salt Lake City to give a lonely guy out here in the Pacific a real thrill of the best nature.
The letter above is recorded in A Century of Singing, a book by J. Spencer Cornwall.